St Albans care home reunites lost elderly Croatian woman with family

The Orchard nursing home in St Albans - photo Google Street View.

The Orchard nursing home in St Albans - photo Google Street View. - Credit: Archant

Care home employees worked together to reunite a elderly tourist who spoke no English with her Croatian family.

Staff at The Orchard Nursing Home on Camp Road sprung into action when a kind samaritan brought 76-year-old Marica Musija into reception - she had been found cold, alone and lost, walking around the city for about two hours before the passerby picked her up.

Polish employee Teresa Stephen figured out she was speaking Shtokavski - a language which encompasses three dialects commonly referred to as Croatian, Bosian, and Serbian.

A care home nurse and Croatian national Violetta Hajjar was called in, clad in pyjamas, to translate.

Violetta, who has lived in Jersey Farm for all her married life, can speak five other languages alongside her mother tongue.

It turned out Marica was visiting her son’s family in England when she became confused with directions on the school run for her grandson.

Her son Zladko Musija was on a business trip to Germany and unable to help.

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Receptionist Fiona Fawchett stayed behind for hours after her shift ended, working alongside manager Kay Wainwright, to call the police and look after Marica.

In all the confusion Violetta was planning to pay for Marica’s flight home, but after three hours a missing person report was filed with Herts police and she was reunited with her family.

Violetta wanted people to remember care homes in this type of situation: “Here in St Albans our nursing homes are the place for members of the public to bring missing people because there’s the highest possibility we speak the language, we are known for being international and multilingual and all of us are good people who actually care.”

She said Marica was a gorgeous lady and would like to thank the mysterious good samaritan who brought her in.

The Orchard is managed by Caring Homes and has specialist facilities for 63 elderly residents.

Herts police ask missing people are reported on the non-emergency 101, or 999 if they are young, vulnerable or at risk of harm. They advise searchers should check places the person could be injured, all answer machines, and friends homes or offices to check they are truly missing.